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Q: [._ Gov, Hist] Current world politics ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: [._ Gov, Hist] Current world politics
Category: Relationships and Society > Government
Asked by: tez-ga
List Price: $2.55
Posted: 12 Dec 2002 12:36 PST
Expires: 11 Jan 2003 12:36 PST
Question ID: 123745
Where can one find a 2-page overview of current world political
structures?  A 10-page overview?  (A book-length overview?)

 [Target audience: the modern college student -- a solid 
  background in civics theory, and in major world events 
  of the past century in particular; little knowledge of 
  current structures and organizations, or of specific 
  officials beyond 20 or 30 major world leaders]

A large tip for answering the same question for *implicit* political
structures -- the commercial, financial, military, religious, and
charitable organizations which take part in and direct aspects of
politics around the world [without formal 'political' positions].
Subject: Re: [._ Gov, Hist] Current world politics
Answered By: kutsavi-ga on 12 Dec 2002 13:55 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hey there Tez, 

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard people ask for something similar
to what your looking for.  I hope that my favorite sources are what
you are looking for.

First of all, is an online political reference Almanac
that is just great.  As a matter of fact, it is the online version of
The Political Reference Almanac, so if you needed hard copy
information of all this, you can find it all in the current Almanac
for 2002-2003.  The URL for the web site is
and you can access the almanac by selecting the “Almanac” button at
the top of the page.  The almanac itself divided into sections labled:
Calendar, Executive, Legislative, Judicial, State/Local, Parties,
Nations, Organizations, Documents and Economics.

 For the specific information you are looking for, there is a table of
all current nations, their area in square miles, population and
current leader; “Nations and Territories Summary.”

Here is a sample from that table, (It’s a vertical table, but it
didn’t paste that way.  I’m sure you can see how it’s supposed to
(sq. mi.)
Head(s) of State
Head(s) of Government

Head of the Supreme Council Mullah Mohammad Rabbani

President Rexhep Mejdani; Prime Minister Ilir Meta

This table could probably be printed out in four pages.  Slightly
longer than your two page request, but it’s great information.

Another feature available on the Nations page is a summary of National

“The following is a regime and leadership history of each nation that
has existed since the end of World War II (1945). Under each nation,
an accounting of each historical state of sovereignty is noted in
italics. Official names of each regime are further underlined.
Following each major sovereignty classification is a list of the heads
of state and of government for that entity, arranged by their official
titles. In some cases the head of state and the head of government are
the same, while in still others there are often more than one head of
state. For selected nations, political party affiliations of leaders
have also been given, with a key to the party abbreviations for that
nation following its entry.”

What you do is select a country from a pop-up list, and you are
returned the following information.

And here’s a sample:


territory of United Kingdom (1861-1971)
    protectorate (1880-1971)

1942-61  Sheikh Sulman ibn Hamad Al Khalifah
1961-71  `Isa ibn Sulman al-Khalifah
President of the State Council
1970-71  Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa

independent nation since August 14, 1971
    State of Bahrain (1971-)

1971-99  `Isa ibn Sulman al-Khalifah
1999-99  Sheikh Hamad ibn `Isa Al Khalifah
Prime Minister
1971-99  Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa

The great thing about this site and the hard copy of the Almanac is
that they each contain the other information you were looking for. 
Under organizations you can find information like the following on
about 115 multilateral organizations along with all the Missions,
Agencies and Organs of the UN.  Here’s a sample:

Central American Common Market [CACM]

c/o SIECA, Apartado Postal 1237, 4a Avenida 10-25, Zona 14, Guatemala
01901, Guatemala
[502] (2) 682151

Established: December 13, 1960

Purpose: to promote establishment of a Central American Common Market
Membership: 5 members (Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras;
I am assuming you are an instructor looking for a page or booklet to
use as a handout.  I would think that using the information right from
The Political Reference Almanac would be ideal, being as how it’s a
reference source anyway.  It would also make a good online reference
for reports and such.

Another great reference source for political information is the CIA’s
World Fact Book…that’s right, the CIA puts it out.  Here’s the URL:
They don’t put the information in easy, simple and concise table
format, but they do offer a button for a “print friendly page” of
their information.  Here’s a sample:
Following independence from Spain in 1816, Argentina experienced
periods of internal political conflict between conservatives and
liberals and between civilian and military factions. After World War
II, a long period of Peronist authoritarian rule and interference in
subsequent governments was followed by a military junta that took
power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983, and numerous elections
since then have underscored Argentina's progress in democratic


Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between
Chile and Uruguay

Geographic coordinates:
34 00 S, 64 00 W

Map references:
South America

total: 2,766,890 sq km 
land: 2,736,690 sq km 
water: 30,200 sq km

Area - comparative:
slightly less than three-tenths the size of the US

Land boundaries:
total: 9,665 km 
border countries: Bolivia 832 km, Brazil 1,224 km, Chile 5,150 km,
Paraguay 1,880 km, Uruguay 579 km

4,989 km
This information continues down the page…looks to me to be about 4 or
5 pages in length if you were to print it out.  On all their countries
pages, they offer information on Geography, People, Government,
Economy, Communications, Transportation, Military, and what I find
most interesting is the Transnational Issues at the bottom of each
page.  Here it is for the sample of Argentina above:
Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:
claims UK-administered Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas); claims
UK-administered South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands;
territorial claim in Antarctica partially overlaps British and Chilean

Illicit drugs:
used as a transshipment country for cocaine headed for Europe and the
US; increasing use as a money-laundering center; domestic consumption
of drugs in urban centers is increasing

I hope that these two sources offer you enough of the information you
were looking for.  If I can clarify or provide more information, don’t
hesitate to ask.


Clarification of Answer by kutsavi-ga on 12 Dec 2002 14:49 PST
For about the 4th time in a row I've forgotten to add search
strategies to the end of my question.  Here are the terms I used to
help locate information:

world political information cia

world political almanac

world political summary

Request for Answer Clarification by tez-ga on 18 Dec 2002 21:28 PST
Howdy kutsavi!

Thanks for your fast response.  We seem to enjoy some of the same
reference works -- I haven't looked at a Political Reference Almanac
in a few years, but I certainly have a CIA Factbook and a number of
smaller reference works close at hand.  Let me clarify my question a
little --

What I am not looking for -

 .I'm NOT looking for collections of facts; these are rarely overviews
(save for the cases where the facts are carefully selected for some
illustrative purpose).
 .I'm NOT looking only for information on the type-of-government of
various nations; many of the most important world political structures
are international bodies, or structures within a major government.

As for what I AM looking for -

 .A narrative description of the state of the world, which summarizes
data with good, clear prose.  "The world contains 6 billion people
governed by 200 geographically-defined countries (10,000 - 1 billion
people in size), a handful of large tribes unattached to specific
countries, a handful of worldwide organs(both religious and
political), 10-20 major multinational organs, a profusion of official
international treaties and alliances (almost all from the past 60
years), and the direct influence of the foreign policies of the 5-10
most powerful countries."
 .A comparison of major international political structures with the
national political structures of major world players.  [e.g.,
comparing the amount of foreign aid the IMF hands out each year to the
amount the US does]
 .A true overview that manages, by focusing on what is most important,
to merge any different sources of information into a unified concept
of the world as a single political conglomerate. [In which realms does
the UN have final say in world politics?  What purpose do
international standards bodies and treaty organizations play?  Which
groups provide checks and balances on which other groups?]
  For instance, a brief mention of the
executive/legislative/judicial/canonical split in most western
first-world nations [which each have major foreign policy and foreign
aid bureaucracies], and general description of the way that UN policy
and international treaties affect these nations, would be extremely
useful in understanding how networks of international policy develop.

   It would be difficult to produce a 2-page overview of current world
political structures while devoting a line to each country!  Rather,
more space would have to be devoted to the major world structures (the
UN, governments of larger countries) and less to smaller, isolated, or
transient structures.
   The only such overviews I know of are 'short articles' in
encyclopedias, and I have not found any article which addresses the
broad topic of "what political structures keep the world's wheels
turning".  Do you know of one that does?
*That* would make a fabulous handout, giving everything else context.

   As for the Extra Bonus aspect of the question - consider an
overview such as the above, which takes into account the vast
political influence of Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and McDonalds when they
move into poorer nations; Int'l Red Cross/Crescent and Peace Corps
programs [and their equivalents from other internationally-minded
first-world countries]; OPEC, the US Fed, and other orgs that have the
power to provoke worldwide economic reactions; etc.
   I didn't mean for this clarification to get so long, but I hope
we're on the same wavelength now!


Clarification of Answer by kutsavi-ga on 19 Dec 2002 05:58 PST
Hi Tez, 

Sorry for the misunderstanding.  I think I know now exactly what you
need.  The source I have in mind is not a politically neutral one;
it's biased toward the liberal end of the scale, and I think he has
his own agenda, but it's quite the overview of the political world we
live in.  Here's an excerpt:


R. G. COPELAND 1995 (c) Ross Copeland 1995

The entire series of short articles can be found here:

[Following is 3rd paragraph under chapter "The Global Political
"The end of the cold war and subsequent 'victory' of capitalism as the
global economic order, has made it possible for the giant
trans-national corporations (TNCs) to expand their enterprises on a
truly global scale. The demise of the bipolar emphasis in
international politics and economics, and opening-up of the majority
of countries to 'free market' trading policies, together with recent
advances in transport and communications systems, has allowed the TNCs
to exploit the new markets to their full. Not just in terms of
increased sales, but also in terms of a fresh supply of cheap, and in
terms of countries in eastern Europe, relatively skilled labour. One
result of this has been the growing tendency for some firms to switch
labour intensive production facilities to countries where the labour
costs are lower, and environmental controls often not as stringent as
in more established industrialised economies"

The chapters of the text are:
 The Global Political Economy 
 The Political Economics of Underdevelopment 
 The Global Economy and The Environment 
 A New Agenda 

I think this might fit the bill better, now that I have a firmer
understanding of what it was you were looking for.  (I sure *thought*
I knew before ;-) )

Let me know if this is it!



major "political structures" that keep world economy running

Clarification of Answer by kutsavi-ga on 19 Dec 2002 06:33 PST
HI again this morning, Tez, 

I have been trying to find out who this Ross Copeland guy is that
produced those articles.  Here is information as of September 2000
that lends the guy a little professionalism:

Ross Copeland is currently Lecturer in English for Economists at the
University of Kassel, Germany. He offers four courses, including one
in Development Economics, that combine English language with critical
analysis. Born in South Africa, he grew up and was educated in
Britain. Although currently living in Germany, he hopes to return to
South Africa relatively soon. His chief academic interests lie in the
fields of International Relations and the workings of the Global
Political Economy and his research has been Influenced by the
Historical Materialist/Neo-Gramscian school of thought. "I believe in
the liberalising role of education and the importance of choice and I
feel it important that the social sciences be involved in improving
the quality of life for all people on the planet, not merely
restricted to a role of description and documentation. These ideas
inform both my research and my teaching" he says.

Above from the web site:

Request for Answer Clarification by tez-ga on 24 Dec 2002 04:01 PST
'Morning, Kutsavi.  

Thank you for the Copeland link; he does offer short overviews of the
world's major structure as he sees it (if only he had a collaborator
with a different and longer perspective... and a good editor!).  
Sadly, from my point of view, he is writing to make a rhetorical point
rather than to provide a reference -- as such he tends towards
presenting general notions and theories, without comparing specific
organizations, nations, leaders, companies.
   (Most frustrating is the lack of parallelism in the essays - how
does he choose the examples he quotes from?  Why does he mention
certain major world powers, yet ignore China, India, Russia, France? 

   If you come across an overview with more parallel structure, I will
be overjoyed!  Nevertheless, this set of essays is a suitable 10-page
overview, and our exchange has been very useful in helping me refine a
second question  (so if you find something further, keep your eyes
peeled for a new question).

Clarification of Answer by kutsavi-ga on 24 Dec 2002 07:12 PST
I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled and if anything comes up I'll post
it here.  Thanks, Tez!

tez-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thank you for your help.  You found me a good prose overview to
compare to other overviews, and online access to some of the most
relevant country political data.  Good luck with your future research.


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